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01-07-2009, 01:24 PM
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That's possible, although Howe did lead the Wings in scoring by a fair clip in 1968 without Mahovlich, and only Howie Young has a better unadjusted +/- on the team (and that team included Norm Ullman most of the year). In 1971 Howe was also finally breaking down some and retired after the season because of severe arthritis in his wrists that limited him all year. In 1970 Howe had a better +/- than Mahovlich by a decent margin as well. How was also still playing on the PK despite being 41. I'm sure Mahovlich had an impact, but I don't see him as the reason Howe's +/- relative to the team would be inflated.

As far as his prime +/- I think it would be much higher than you assume. Take 1952-53 for example. The team had 222GF and 133GA, a +89 margin. Howe finished that season with 95 points. He was on a stacked line there as well. I don't think it's outside the realm of reason to assume that his +/- that season was extremely high, even in relation to his teammates. Nobody on his team finished withing 24 points of him, leading me to believe he was double or triple shifted quite a bit that season (or he was scoring a ridiculous amount of unassisted goals). Sadly there will likely never be a way to know for sure, but I'd bet his adjusted +/- per season through his prime and even mid 30s was far higher than you might expect.

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